Travelling around Switzerland during Xmas 2014

Travelling around Switzerland during Xmas 2014

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LengYing
LengYing
5 posts
new member
Sep 28, 2014 - 9:52 AM

Hi There,

I am visiting a few EU places (Paris. Switzerland and London) by end of the year from 19 Dec 2014 to 4th Jan 2015. My initial draft plan would be as below, we have visited many times to Paris and London, but it is our first time visiting Switzerland.

  • 19th - 21st Dec - Paris
  • 22nd - 30th Dec - Switzerland (Lucern, Interlaken, Zermatt, Zurich/ Bern..etc)
  • 31st Dec - 4th Jan - London

I have about 8 full days in Switzerland and would like to cover a few places. Appreciate if you could help to answer some of my queries:

  1. Does train in Swiss stop operating during X'mas period? Eg: Golden Pass Panoramic Train. Glacier Express Panoramic Train and also some general train commuting between cities Switzerland, and also France to Switzerland Train . The current train schedule in SBB website are only show up to 13 Dec 2014.
  2. If they are operating, what is the schedule like? Do they have similar schedule from what they are currently offer until 13 Dec 2014? This is crucial for us to plan our stay in the cities.
  3. Which route would you recommend? Golden Pass Panoramic or Glacier Panoramic Express? If i am not mistaken, Glacier will cover more on Swiss Alps whereas Golden pass covers lake + some mountain view? Please do correct me if i am wrong. If i have 8 days in Switzerland, can i cover Glacier Route as well (on top of visiting Luzern, Interlaken, Zermatt, Zurich/Bern) ? will it be a very rush schedule? Does it worth to take both Glacier and Golden Pass Panoramic Train? Initially Glacier express are not in our plan as Glacier needs to travel from/to St Moritz which is the other side of Switzerland. But after reviewing some forum, people recommended Glacier express train too, therefore we are hesitating whether we should be taking this Glacier scenic train as well. Appreciate your advice. Option 1 - Not taking Glacier Panoramic Express (France > Zermatt > Montreux > Interlaken > Lucern > Zurich/Bern [Where we will be flying to London] ) Option 2- Taking Glacier (France > St. Moritz > Zermatt (Fr St Moritz to Zermatt taking Glacier Panoramic Express) > Montreux > Interlaken > Lucern > Zurich/Bern {Where we will be flying to London])
  4. By looking at point (3), which Railway pass would you recommend for us since we have 8 Days travelling in Switzerland (access Swiss via France)? Eurail Select Pass? France - Switzerland Pass? Swiss Pass?
  5. Also, if we are taking Golden Pass Panoramic Train, and our direction are from Montreux–Interlaken–Lucerne, and we would like to stop by a few nights in Interlaken before proceeding to Lucerne, is that possible?

Truly appreciate your prompt reply on this. Thank you so much for your help in advance.

Cheers, Elly

Arno
Arno
7345 posts
expert &
moderator
Sep 28, 2014 - 10:18 AM

Hi Elly,

Let's start with your questions:

  1. The trains will definitely operate.
  2. I expect the new schedules to be available in the timetable from 15 October.
  3. Please see here for detailed planning tips and sample itineraries: www.myswissalps.com/plantrip/doityourself. Both the Golden Pass and Glacier Express are wonderful. Please see the links so you can make an informed decision. Take into account that hotels in the mountains (e.g. Zermatt, St. Moritz) may take full week bookings only because it's the top of high season between Christmas and early January. I recommend to book hotels as soon as possible. Suggestions are on our town pages I just linked to, and here.
  4. Based on your current plans I would advice a point to point ticket from Paris to Basel, and a Swiss Pass, or possibly a Swiss Flexi Pass, for your 8 days in Switzerland. Paris to Basel can best be booked early, see here. You can order along your rail pass.
  5. Sure, you can pick any itinerary you want. You normally do not need reservations in Switzerland, so you're very flexible. Details are here: www.myswissalps.com/train/reservations.

An additional tip: you probably have a reason for it, but just to be sure: it makes more sense to start in Switzerland, then proceed to Paris, and finally London. That way you travel less miles and you can easily do everything by train (hence you'll see more and travel eco-friendly).

Happy planning!

Last modified on Dec 28, 2014 - 12:58 PM by Arno
LengYing
LengYing
5 posts
new member
Sep 29, 2014 - 10:33 AM

Hi Arno,

Thanks so much for your reply. Indeed it is very informative and helpful.

1. Can i please probe to ask further on the Swiss Pass? If i am going to opt for Swiss pass / Swiss Flexi Pass, does the Swiss Pass also include the ticket for Golden Pass/Glacier Express Panoramic Train? Or do we need to pay extra charges (maybe entitle with discount) if we have already got a Swiss Pass?

2. Also, if i have opted on 2nd Class Swiss Pass, can i do a upgrade by adding extra $ to upgrade to 1st class seat with the bigger panoramic window view when we are taking Golden pass/Glacier Express panoramic train?

3. If i am interested to Ski in one of the places, which city would you recommend? Zermatt? Interlaken? (Please note that in my itinerary i am planning to visit Zermatt > Montreux > Interlaken > Bern > Lucern > Zurich)

Thanks for your help in replying again. :)

Cheers, Elly

Arno
Arno
7345 posts
expert &
moderator
Sep 29, 2014 - 12:27 PM

Hi Elly,

1. Of course you can! The pass includes all trains, so you don't need tickets. Very few trains require a seat reservation on top of the pass. The Glacier Express is one of them. These pages explain how it works:

2. Yes, you can: www.myswissalps.com/train/practical/2nd1stclass

3. Zermatt is a perfect place to ski with many slopes surrounding the town. All the other towns on your list are in the valleys and are no ski resorts, so you would have to travel up into the mountains to start skiing.

LengYing
LengYing
5 posts
new member
Oct 19, 2014 - 9:50 AM

Hi Again,

Thank you so much for the information earlier. Appreciate it. I have a few more queries that would like to seek for your help or clarifications:

The train schedule for winter season are finally out. we have decided to visit St Moritz from Paris on 22nd Dec and we will be getting a 8 Days Swiss pass.

  1. As according to your advice earlier, I will purchase a single journey train ticket from Paris to Swiss (Basel or Zurich), then continue to travel from Basel/ Swiss to St Moritz. But would you recommend we buy the ticket to Basel or Zurich (from paris) if our final stop is St Moritz? My only worried is if we purchase a ticket to Basel, but from Basel to Zurich the TGV train is full then we might missed the afterwards train from Zurich to St Moritz.
  2. Also, if we buy the ticket to Basel from Paris, do we need to get down to the train to make reservation for our subsequent journey from Basel to Zurich (Paris > Basel > Zurich : within the same train)? Or we can just present our Swiss pass without getting off from the train that we travel from Paris to Basel.
  3. Can you also advice for TGV type of train, do we required to make reservation in advance or we can hop on to the train on the spot? If we would prefer to make reservation prior to our trip, could you please advice where can we reserve the train ticket online?
  4. Due to the period we are travelling in Swiss is considered the peak season, we will thinking to make reservation in advance even on the normal train when we travelling within Swiss, could you please advice are we able to reserve it online via SBB website? or the only option is to make a reservation at any Swiss train station?
  5. My current location is in Malaysia and i would like to get a Swiss pass as soon as this week, could you please advice weblink/agent to purchase the Swiss pass and they will deliver the Swiss pass that we purchased to address in Malaysia?

Thanks a lot! Cheers

Elly

Arno
Arno
7345 posts
expert &
moderator
Oct 19, 2014 - 11:07 AM in reply to LengYing

Welcome back Elly,

You need to pay for the leg Paris - Basel. From Basel onwards, the trip is covered by your Swiss Pass. You don't need to get off the train in Basel. Just make sure to ask the staff on board the train to validate your Swiss Pass before you reach Basel.

There won't be many people booking seats from Basel to Zurich, so the risk of your seat being booked from Basel is really small. But, to be safe, you can order a ticket from Paris all the way to Zurich for Swiss Pass holders. That way you will pay to Basel only but have a seat reserved for the whole trip. You can book such a ticket through the link on our reservation page, or go directly to your local website at www.raileurope.com.sg/book-now/article/book-a-point-to-point-ticket?re_reservation=yes since you live in Malaysia.

You should book the ticket as soon as possible as early bookings are cheaper. Booking on the day itself is expensive and there's the risk of fully booked trains. Right now there are still tickets of SG$60 and SG$83. You can order along a Swiss Pass from the same website: www.raileurope.com.sg/pass/swiss-pass. And you can possibly get a discount on the entire order. Of course you can find all points of sale for Malaysia on the Swiss Pass page, but the easiest way in your case is like I just explained.

I would advice against booking seats for trains within Switzerland. Some trains do allow it, but very few people in Switzerland make use of that option, except for large groups. You'll end up spending more money than required and you'll be less flexible. If do want to book seats, you can do so as described above. It's also explained on the reservation page I already referred to.

Have a wonderful trip!

Last modified on Dec 28, 2014 - 12:54 PM by Arno
LengYing
LengYing
5 posts
new member
Oct 20, 2014 - 7:06 AM

Hi Arno,

Thanks again for your prompt reply!

I tried to make booking via raileurope (www.raileurope.com.sg) as per your suggestion, i managed to find the fare of 60SGD (Paris > Basel) and 83SGD (Paris > Zurich) with reservation of Swiss pass..but the fare details stated - 'Holders of a Pass covering France (France RailPass or any Eurail Pass including France) - Class of Service must match the Class of Service of the Rail Pass.' So i have made a call to Rail Europe office and they said the fare is only valid for France pass holder or Eurail Swiss France holder but not Swiss Pass, any idea is this is true? I tried to play around the selection if i have selected France Pass/Swiss Pass, the price from Paris > Zurich is 83SGD per pax, but if i changed my selection to Eurail pass (Swiss/France). it is 60SGD from Paris > Zurich. The price does reflected differently if i put different selection of the rail pass hence I am wondering is this is a system fault or it meant for Swiss pass user to enjoy the discounted ticket as well. Kindly for your advise. Or Do you have any contact that i can make a call to SBB? I couldn't find any international contact to call the SBB customer service.

Also, I would like to buy the ticket from Paris > Basel and further on travelling to Zurich on the same day, but the agent told me i have to get my Swiss pass validated before i can proceed to travel from Basel to Zurich, and the Swiss pass can't validate in Paris station nor on the train.Can you please advice if i can validate the Swiss Pass in Paris train station prior my journey to Basel? If both options are not able to validate, which means i have to move my luggage down to the station and validate my Swiss pass at Basel station before hopping on to the same train within 5 mins transit time.

One more point to note and probably need your help to advise how do i make a reservation via the Swiss Alps link : http://www.myswissalps.com/train/reservations? Can you teach me how to navigate around in order to make a reservation via this weblink? Thanks a alot and cheers.

Thanks for your advice again.

Elly

Arno
Arno
7345 posts
expert &
moderator
Oct 20, 2014 - 8:32 AM

Hi Elly,

The message is just a general warning for holders of a pass for France and it's not relevant to you. It means that one should buy a ticket for the class of the pass that will be used during the trip. I think the Rail Europe agent you talked to misunderstood your question and assumed you had a pass for France because you asked about that message. It simply works like I explained in my previous post: just select the Swiss Pass and you will receive the correct ticket. If you would have a pass that covered both France and Switzerland you would pay less. If you would have a pass for just France and not Switzerland, the amount would be the same or nearly the same. So that makes sense.

Regarding the validation of your pass: it can't be done in Paris but it can be done by the staff of the train to Switzerland as explained here on the Swiss Pass page. It's a common process. I am not sure why the agent would tell you differently (I will contact them about that). There's no need to get off the train and spend time on this in Basel.

Our reservation page points to the same link, so there's no difference there.

I hope all is cleared up now. Please let me know if you succeeded getting the ticket and the pass. Enjoy the ride!

Arno

Last modified on Dec 28, 2014 - 12:56 PM by Arno
Arno
Arno
7345 posts
expert &
moderator
Nov 5, 2014 - 4:23 PM

Hi Elly,

I just got it reconfirmed for Rail Europe too: you can have your pass validated on the train from Paris to Switzerland. I hope you're all set for your trip now. Just let me know if anything remains unclear.

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